Midnight Mass: Is Fear The Only True Emotion?

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I was very young when I was watching an interview of a director who made horror movies.

‘Fear is the only true emotion.’

He said. I was too young to even understand this quote, forget about dissecting it. All I knew was there were so many other emotions – love, anger, sadness. This guy probably did not know anything…

I also remember again from my childhood, a person describing someone as a ‘very good person’, followed by ‘God fearing’.  I did not know what God fearing meant.  I was explained.

“Why is that a good thing,” I asked. “How can fear be a good thing? And why should one fear God of all the people! I mean God is not even people, and He is supposed to be good, so why fear Him?” 

“Because if you fear God, you live by moral values.”

This I understood.  Moral values. I knew what that meant. I went to an all girls convent school.  We had a moral science lesson every single day.

What is the connection between fear and horror and moral values and why am I blabbering about all of this?

I binged watched Midnight Mass this weekend.  I had been waiting for this show ever since it was announced. I am not a binge watch person so this means a lot to me.  For the benefit of those who don’t know, Midnight Mass was the latest work of Mike Flanagan, a filmmaker who is best known for his work in the horror genre.  A lot of his previous films and series are on Netflix including Haunting of the Hill House, Haunting of the Bly Manor, Gerald’s Game, Hush, Ouija, Doctor Sleep. A lot of his work is adaptations of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson’s novels.

I have always been a fan of the horror genre.  I don’t like gory, visual horror but more of psychological thrillers. Mike Flanagan’s movies / series are appealing because they have a lot of story and emotion in them.

Midnight mass is new and I do not want to give any spoilers. All I can say is that it is about religion.  It is about miracles. It is about loss.  It is about faith.

But most of all, it is about fear and blind faith and the things one would do to as a result of it.

A sleepy, almost dead town starts to face mysteries and miracles.  Are the people of this town worthy of miracles? Do miracles come at a cost? Some people get to make a choice. For others it is not even a choice.

And yet, the good ones don’t change no matter what happens to them…

For me, Haunting of Hill House was the best. It was also very sad, but it was scary. I can never forget the ‘Bent neck lady’. Haunting of Bly Manor was too slow and painful. Midnight Mass is not for every one.  I surely liked it. It is unsettling. It is painful.  The visuals are breathtaking. Kate Siegel, Mike Flanagan’s wife who acts in most of his movies is stunning.  Her face is both calm and wild at the same time. The acting of the entire cast is superb.  For me, living in that boring town is the real horror, even before anything else happens!! To me, a lady character in that movie looks like a demon more than the actual demon! Wouldn’t name her… I am not trying to be mean, but it just speaks volumes of her acting.  Zack Gilford as Riley is crush worthy. I loved Hamish Linklater’s acting as Father Paul. He is charismatic! His wardrobe was interesting too! Rahul Kohli’s character’s religious plot was unnecessary, forced and propaganda, something Netflix seems to be doing a lot lately. I am surprised there has not been more religious outrage against this show yet because its portrayal of the Church, the constant reference to the Bible and its interpretations may have been offensive to many. It is not your jump and scare horror, which is not Mike Flanagan’s thing anyway. But is deep, layered and can be viewed as a metaphor on so many levels. I do not have any great quotes from Midnight Masss yet, but I would like to share my favourites from the Haunting series:

All things fade. All things. Flesh, stone, even the stars themselves. Time takes all things. It is the way of the world

A ghost story is nothing but a love story

A ghost can be a lot of things, but often times it is just a wish

To truly love another person is to accept the work of loving them is worth the pain of losing them

So, is fear the only true emotion? I think all our choices in life are driven by fear.  We make call it something else.  But in one way or another,  it is just a fear of something else.

Take marriage for example. Why do we get married? We can call it companionship, love and building a family but what is it really?

Fear of ending up alone…

Why do people not get married?

Fear of losing your freedom…

Why do people leave bad marriages?

Fear of being unhappy for every single day for the rest of your life

Fear of failing is the reason why people give up on their dreams even before they start pursuing it.  Fear of unknown and change is what makes qualified people stick to horrible jobs.  Fear of losing your loves ones and your own  life is what made you and me sit at home during the past year at the cost of our sanity.

I had written a blog about ‘Haunting of the Hill House’  earlier but I had never published it.  I did not want to give spoilers.  I still don’t.  This is what happens in the series:

Someone puts a thought in the mother’s mind that her children will suffer when they grow up and that she needs to protect them from that. The mother ended up acting upon her fear.  

The fear turned into reality!!

Was it always meant to happen that way?  Or did it happen because she feared it so much. Is it true that if you fear something it actually happens? Or maybe what you fear has already happened. It has happened in the past. You just never made your peace with it. And you are still living that fear, every day of your life. 

Fear keeps us safe. Fear keeps us checked. Fear keeps us aligned to our core values. Keep fear for the good things.  Keep fear as long as it keeps you good. But if it comes in the way of you being strong, then remember this:

You have nothing to fear, but fear itself.



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